The course kicked off with a thought-provoking talk by Manel Poch about the future of water management. An overview of the evolution of water and wastewater treatment was presented, comprehending from the early days of bathing in rivers to the contemporary era of resource recovery. To follow, Joaquim Comas and Maria José Amores carried two workshops presenting decision support tools for water and wastewater systems.
During the afternoon, Marc Neumann gave a talk about uncertainty and sensitivity analysis applied to micro-pollutants, which was topped up with a practical session on uncertainty and sensitivity analysis, using the open-source programming language “R”. Later, the organizing committee started an interactive exercise on project proposal oriented to decision making and consultancy. The alumni were separated in teams and a real case of project win from Atkins was presented to them. In just a few hours, each team should prepare a proposal for the project and put together a presentation to bid for it.
The second day began with a talk on the challenges of micro-contaminants and nutrient recovery concerning the implementation of the water framework directive. Jan-Evert van Veldhoven and Toni Munné gave an overview of the current state and future perspectives of this delicate topic. The talk was followed by a practical session on data crunching and analysis, with a focus on the principal component analysis technique. To this end, Kris Villez used the open-source software Octave (GNU free alternative to MATLAB), to analyse step by step a full data set.
The afternoon started with the alumni presenting their project proposals to the consultants in the TreatRec committee. The competition was fierce and the level very high. The participants learned which skills will be important in their careers if they decide to become consultants.
But the best session, and also the most poignant, was probably the last one of the course. One by one, at a very personal level, TreatRec supervisors and guests gave a talk about their career paths, reflecting on the choices they made and how they affected their happiness. This was truly an inspiring set of talks that invited the fellows to think about their future, not only from a professional but also intimate point of view.